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John’s Banana Bread Bonanza

John’s Banana Bread Bonanza

A sign that you’re getting older is the sheer impossibility of organising a get together with your friends. Weekends suddenly become jam packed with familial duties and weeknights are usually spent in a crumpled heap on the sofa, half-consciously scrolling through a screen. My friend John and I had been planning an evening of baking for the last three months (taking the biscuit just a little #bestpunever) and we don’t even have children to blame it on! Luckily we finally got our act together and locked in Monday for our reunion which was to be spent in the kitchen making delicious banana bread.

 

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And man, oh man was it yummy. We managed to turn my little galley kitchen in to a pop-up boulangerie with flour whirling and the smell of cinnamon hanging in the air. I acted as sous chef which involved handing over ingredients when needed and giving things the odd stir (so professional). Watching John in action was such a treat because as a recent financial administrator-turned-baker-extraordinaire, he has such a passion for baking and clearly loves what he does. It’s such a brave move to change careers like he has and he’s now baking for the most popular restaurants in Belfast – a move that paid off!

 

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So many crinkles, maybe it’s time I bought an iron? 
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After tasting the bread I begged John to let me share the recipe. It is so moreish and although I had his help, it is definitely not difficult for a beginner baker. The hardest part is having the patience to wait for it to bake! He has also passed on a few insider tricks which makes it very easy to get right the first time. The smell alone is pure heaven – the combination of cinnamon and ginger filled our house for hours! As we tucked in to our slice, steam still emanating from the loaf, I realised that maybe the best get-togethers are worth the wait. Especially when they involve delicious food.

 

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Yes he can bake and yes he is single 😉

I’ve included the recipe below for you to enjoy but if you have any questions or suggestions of your own please feel free to comment! Happy baking!


John’s Banana Bread Bonanza

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Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 150g dark brown sugar
  • 4 x soft bananas (the browner the better before they get to complete mush!)
  • 3 x medium eggs
  • 50ml buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 x 900g loaf tin
  • 1 x stand mixer
  • 1 x mixing bowl
  • Baking sheets

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Using the stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together
  3. Add in soft bananas and beat for 40 seconds on a medium speed
  4. Take off the mixer and sieve in the flour, cinnamon, ginger, bicarbonate soda and salt. Gently fold in ingredients using a spatula.
  5. Add buttermilk and mix in with spatula until fully incorporated
  6. Grease the loaf tin with butter and line with a baking sheet
  7. Pour the mixture in to the tin
  8. Place in preheated oven for 5-10 mins and then turn the heat down to 170C and cook for another 25 minutes
  9. Test the mixture with a skewer and once it comes out clean the bread is done
  10. Enjoy with a big mug of tea!

 

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What Not To Worry About #30

What Not To Worry About #30

Happy Monday my internet friends! How are we this Monday??? Feeling positive and ready to tackle the week ahead? It is so much easier to feel in charge and capable of great things when the sun is shining on us so I am savouring every second of vitamin D that I can get. In fact, I am feeling so ballsy that I actually signed up to run 5km in September and had my first training session this afternoon – a pretty great way to start the week if you ask me.

 

Running has never been my thing and I have been in awe of people who praise it’s benefits since every time I run I actually feel even more unhealthy. Of course having Cystic Fibrosis means that my wee lungs find running a bit tricky and getting my breathing in control can be a struggle (my airways can feel really tight like I’m breathing through a straw which is as unpleasant as it sounds). A few puffs of my inhaler can help a bit but the whole experience is usually a not-so-nice one and I’ve been put off trying for fear that I’ll always feel a little let down by own body.

 

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But by avoiding running or any intense cardio I was giving in to this fear which is something I’ve always tried to avoid. CF can take away many things and it can be difficult to ever feel in control of my own health but what I can do is move and keep on moving. I am lucky that I have a strong body able to withstand all the medication, hospital admissions and countless coughing fits. I shouldn’t feel let down because I am afraid.

 

Instead I am saying  “Fuck it!” and pushing this body as far as I know it can go. I won’t be judging or comparing myself to others but will be taking big gulps of air to the deepest parts of my lungs just knowing I am making them stronger. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1km, 5km or 26km, every step is a step I am grateful for. I might be wheezing by the end of it and I will definitely be coughing a lot but I will be proud of myself. It’s better than disappointment, right?

 

And here’s a few more worries that I’m shirking this week…

 

Rosé

Summer time suddenly means that drinking pure vinegar is acceptable and I am baffled. Unless there is some delicious rosé that I have missed out on? I’m not so sure.

 

People who talk when they run

Another reason why I avoided running for so long was because when I ever ran with anyone they friggin’ talked the entire time! Like I can talk when I’m running??!! I have no time for chit-chat when my entire brain is focusing on breathing alone, thank you very much so please save the natter for the end when I might be able to formulate words again.

 

Ballet pumps in the summer

You honestly don’t want to be within 5 feet of me when I come home and kick these bad boys off at the end of the day. Woo-eeee it ain’t pretty!!

 

Crap underwear

I always mean to invest in good quality underwear but I also end up buying multipacks from Primark that become discoloured and ill-fitted after a few washes. Any folks have any advice on where to get underwear that doesn’t have a classy diamanté on the front???

 

People who save their bath products

The same goes for people who save Easter eggs and Christmas presents. Use them!

 

Have a lovely week and fingers crossed for a bit more sun!

Is It Wrong To Be Selfish?

Is It Wrong To Be Selfish?

Last weekend I had a full weekend without any real plans. I woke up on Saturday with the sun filtering through the curtains, stretched my legs out and relished the thought of not having a whirlwind itinerary ahead of me. Living an hour away from my family and most of my friends means that my weekends often involve me rushing down the motorway in my car and trying to catch up with as many loved ones as I can. While it’s always lovely to see my favourite people, I am usually knackered by the end of it and recently I’ve been feeling deflated on a Sunday evening because the weekend had rushed by me in a series of hurried get-togethers.

 

I accepted long ago that I am an eternal people-pleaser however I realised recently that the reason I had been sacrificing my weekends mooching about my own home and lie-in’s in my own bed was because I felt guilty. I had imposed these obligations upon myself because I was afraid what others may think of me if I dedicated a whole weekend to myself and didn’t make the effort to see anyone down at ‘home’. I have this very real fear of appearing to be self-involved and this has led me to live a life that doesn’t always feel like my own.

 

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But what is truly wrong with being selfish? In a time where self-care is the new YOLO, it is becoming more and more apparent that selfishness is not a quality to be revered but in fact requires a lot of courage to embrace. Our generation might be regarded as the most self-aware but this self-awareness is a result of constant competition whether it be through social media, job insecurity or the sheer amount of options we have to choose from.  While having these options is a luxury our parents (or grandparents at least) fought for us to have, there comes with that the overwhelming feeling of never being enough. Am I working hard enough? Have I travelled enough? Am I good enough friend/partner/parent? Am I happy enough? The gap between the life we are expected to live and the life we are truly living seems to be widening which has resulted in more of us experiencing anxiety that is specific to the social changes our generation are facing.

 

My problem seems to be the need to keep others happy. By imposing these expectations upon myself to be the best version of myself that I can be, I have ended up losing touch with what truly makes me happy. I recently read an article by Raymond Nourmand who eloquently put that the less someone’s reaction affects you, the more selfless a place you are giving from therefore in order to be truly selfless we must be truly selfish. Who knew eh???

 

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The next time you are feeling selfish for prioritising your own happiness, give yourself a good shake and instead congratulate yourself! By making the effort to fulfill your needs you are actually caring about yourself which is the ultimate step to being a better person. And this applies to me and my moments of guilt when I haven’t trekked home for the weekend. Taking the time to do something (or nothing) for myself will only make me a nicer person to be around and the time I will be spending with family and friends will be feel a lot more enjoyable.

 

If you identify with anything I have said and would like some ideas on how you can be a more selfish person, I’ve included some tips on when you should choose you over anything else.

 

When you’re too exhausted to meet a friend

Don’t force yourself no matter how long it might have been since you last saw them. They deserve the best version of you, not the too-tired-to-function version who will be ready to sleep after the first sip of wine. Good friends will always understand.

 

When you’re stressed in work

Taking annual leave during a stressful time in work can feel like you’re going against your instincts but this should only highlight how important it is that you need to take some time out. We are all entitled to these days off so you shouldn’t feel guilty in the slightest. By taking a few days off to unwind (and for the love of Jeebus do not check your work emails) you will feel so much more capable to handle the difficult tasks you had left behind (and they actually might not be as difficult now that you’re chilled!).

 

When you’re a parent

I was thinking that the parents amongst you might have chuckled to yourself when reading this post since you have the least amount of time to be selfish as anyone! I don’t have children so please forgive me for trying to give any advice on parenting but I do think that to be the kind of parent you had hoped to be (before the permanent exhaustion and reality hit you like a tonne of bricks), you have to put yourself first now and again. Most parents have a decent enough support system through friends/family/partners and so you should never feel guilty about using this. Make a point of scheduling some time on your own once a week – even just for an hour – like you would any other essential appointment. You are still you and you deserve to remind yourself of that as often as possible.

 

When you can’t say no

If you’re a people-pleaser like me this can be a tough one. I hate letting people down and will often find myself in difficult situations just because I can’t say no. The thing I have started to learn is that people won’t immediately dislike me if I can’t always do what they want me to do and will probably forget it fairly quickly (while I stress about it for days after). If you don’t want to do it, then don’t. Simples, right?

 

When you’re on holiday

Going on a trip with people can be the best way to share memories but there can sometimes be a clash in terms of expectations. Some people love to lie on their backs as close to the sun as possible and others like to cram in culture in to every minute. There’s no shame in either but there’s also no shame in parting ways for the day and doing the things you want to do. Travelling is the perfect opportunity to live the carefree life you don’t usually get to live at home so to avoid any disappointment don’t be afraid to speak up and do your own thing.

 

Have a lovely weekend folks!

What Not To Worry About #29

What Not To Worry About #29

How are we midway through July?! The summer is escaping me and I’m starting to panic that I haven’t ticked off any of my summer bucket list plans that I was so sure I would stick to this year! I have used the excuse that there have been too many grey weekends recently but on Saturday there were no excuses. The clouds had miraculously decided to part and the sun bore down for the first time in what felt like forever. We woke up to a bright room and I dragged Andrew out of the house as quick as I could!

 

The North Coast of Ireland is a spectacular place no matter the weather but during the summer when the sun is shining and the blue sky melts in to even bluer waters, there really is no better place to be. We packed up the car with beach supplies (I naively packed a bikini in case I decided to brave the sea which I ended up chickening out of, of course) and spent the day following the coastline, blasting music in the car and watching the afternoon sun dance across the sea. It is on days like this that remind me how lucky I am to call this island home, returning to the house with tired legs and salty skin.

 

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I will be writing a separate post about my favourite parts of the North Coast that I want to share with you, mainly because I was so snap-happy that there are too many photos to include in this one! I have been putting in a little more effort in to photography recently which is a bit scary because I feel more vulnerable when I begin to care about something, are you the same? There is just too much beauty at our feet here that I feel that the whole world should know what we have and yet I want to keep it from becoming to just another Insta-worthy destination.

 

Whatever way you spent it, I hope your day in the sun was exactly what you needed. Whether you were in your back garden weeding or on the beach with your toes in the sand, just as long as you were able to let go of your cares for just a few hours.

And here are a few of the worries I decided to cast in to the Irish sea last weekend…

 

Unexcitable Dogs

I get so excited when I see a dog. I put on this weird voice that is for dogs only and become embarrassingly unaware of myself. What hurts the most though is when the dog I am so excited to meet doesn’t give a crap that I’m there hopping on the spot like a complete eejit. They just look at me with this feline-like nonchalance and I am left incredibly hurt. I know I should really get a grip.

Getting Chilli Underneath my Fingernails

It burrrrrrns!! Especially when you go and forget about it every 5 minutes and spread the burn in to your eyes burning off a good layer of your cornea.

The Food Bin

I went to throw out our food in to our big compost bin a few days and and ran for my friggin’ life. I know this is a little rank and I really hope you’re not eating as you read this but OH MY GOD there were approximately one trillion maggots decorating the inside and of the bin. A whole ecosystem had grown in there and so naturally I have abandoned going out there since.

People Who Make Weak Tea

No thank you. Just leave the tea bag in.

Skin-tight Ripped Jeans. On Men. 

One of the most difficult part of watching Love Island (my new favourite thing in the world) is having to endure men in white jeans that look like they have been sprayed on. How is this a thing??? Lads there is no call for it so peel them off and slip in to a pair of bootcuts like any good Irish fella.

 

Have a great week!!

 

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What Not To Worry About #28

What Not To Worry About #28

Happy Wednesday friends! Well, at least let’s try to keep happy when we’re faced with this too-Autumn-for-words weather which is showing no signs of feckin’ off anytime soon. In the face of endless grey clouds I am focusing on a few things that I have coming up in the next few weeks to keep my spirits up. Sometimes summer in Ireland means planning lots of fun things to distract ourselves from the fact that we barely get a summer at all (which I think I have mastered)!

 

Last weekend was a little more relaxed than I had planned with the rain on Saturday dampening my hopes of attending the outdoor festival in Belfast. I fear that I have lost the bravery of my youth because I just can’t summon the courage to don wellies and get amongst it despite the rain. Cosiness far outweighs shivering underneath a brolly! Instead I nursed a hangover from my work night out on Friday with plenty of sugar (there goes the diet I was supposed to start in July) and went to visit my little sister who was supposed to be staying with me at the weekend but is annoyingly back in for a stint in the hospital (she’s a trooper).

 

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It’s never easy when Shan has to go in because she is being constantly poked and prodded and never gets a break. Anyone who has either been a patient or has visited someone in hospital understands how frustrating this can be especially when you’re so exhausted that all you want is to be able to sleep the night through. What is nice is being able to see plenty of her and she has my house to escape to if she ever wants a bath or wants to eat something that doesn’t look like it was scooped from a compost bin.

 

So we shall be looking at the positives this week despite our circumstances (and this crappy weather) and on that note, here are the things I am choosing not to worry about this week…

 

Drunk Alex

Drunk Alex can be a lot of fun. She loves to dance, loves to meet new people and usually buys some tasty food on the way home. But these are the things I highly dislike about Drunk Alex:

  • She uses all her cash to buy shots for all her new mates (that she will never meet again) and leaves none for the taxi home
  • In her hope to find coins she will destroy her handbag and leave the remnants everywhere on the step of the house
  • She never remembers to put a glass of water by the bed
  • She thinks it’s a good idea to buy a full Victorian sponge cake from the shop on the way home
  • She adds all her new mates on Facebook who she can never bring herself to delete

But all of these things are usually forgotten within 5 days because the scamp is too damn fun to keep away for too long.

Using cotton ear buds

I am always terrified of slipping and jamming the thing through my brain. It’s a realistic fear.

Killing my plants with too much love

I over-water because I care too much. I need to just chill and let my herb garden be!

People who talk in the cinema

I feel like such an old lady but I paid good money for the movie (I actually only go to the cinema on cheap Tuesdays so I don’t pay really good money) and I should be allowed to eat my popcorn (usually smuggled in) in goddamn peace.

Never using my glasses case

My glasses are scratched to pieces and I have all the good intentions of being an adult and using my case but instead I fire them in to my handbag with shrapnel and old inhalers. I will never not be that kind of adult.

 

That’s the round-up for this week folks – have a great one!

A Belfast Breakfast

A Belfast Breakfast

It’s Friday folks; we made it! I am feeling a lot more human today after a few days of feeling very ‘meh’ and being largely confined to my bedroom with nothing but Love Island to keep me company (get off your judgement pony, the show is chewing gum for the brain!). Now I am raring for a weekend full of plans and hopefully a little bit of dancing thrown in for good measure!

 

I have a work BBQ tonight which I am nerdishly excited about (I’m on the Social Committee so extra nerd points for me, thanks) and I am just praying that the rain clouds do the cool thing and feck off for a few hours. The rest of the weekend might involve a wee local festival or an afternoon drive but will definitely include brunch with my little sister who is coming up for a wee visit to the big smoke.

 

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Since moving to Belfast over two years ago it feels like there has been a new café opening every other weekend; the options are endless and there are still plenty of places that I am yet to try. Having visitors is the perfect excuse for exploring new spots and this weekend I’ll be taking Shannon for a feed that will no doubt be a cure for the night before.

 

Venturing out of the house for breakfast is a real treat and not something we do too often but when we do I like to really take my time to enjoy it. There are a few places that I definitely would recommend and so I thought I would include them in a post for those of you in need of a little inspiration for this weekend or for the next time you’re visiting this vibrant wee city of ours. I’m no fibber though so there are a couple here that are still on my hit list but that I’ve heard such good things about them that I’m sure you are bound to love them too. I hope.

 

Wishing you all a lovely weekend filled with whatever makes your heart and face happy 🙂

 

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If you’re lookin’ for a fry…

It wouldn’t be an Irish breakfast post without a mention of the Ulster Fry. When we were growing up my lovely Mum used to cook a full fry for us without fail every Saturday morning with enough carbs to fill a horse. Soda bread, potato bread, pancakes… no wonder I was an absolute puddin’ as a child. If you’re in the mood to have a feast then definitely give this lot a go…

Baker Street

This joint is in East Belfast so might not be too handy for some of you but for the likes of me on that side of town, this place is perfect for a weekend treat. There is a great variety on the menu in case you’re after something different but I would definitely recommend going the traditional route!

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Café Conor

An old reliable found in the Queen’s Quarter of town that always has a great wee buzz about it. It’s a handy place to go before going across the road to the Botanic Gardens or Ulster Museum to walk off the feast.

Town Square

Found beneath the trees of Botanic, this corner spot is a place I keep returning to. The food is always delicious and they have plenty of events on in the evenings in case you find yourself staying on for an all-day session!

 

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If you’re lookin’ for something guilt-free…

Going out for a heavy fry can sometimes feel a bit too much, especially when we’re supposed to be maintaining these summer bodies (ahem). The places above still offer a few healthy options but if you’re after some fresh seasonal ingredients then be sure to try either of these two.

The Skinny Kitchen

I’ve been hearing really great things about this from my healthy friends and I keep meaning to give it a whirl but I never seem to make the trek across the city. It’s on Boucher Road so it’s perfect if you’re planning on doing some shopping after but since it’s on the opposite side of town, I haven’t quite made it yet. Soon though!

 

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The Little Pink Kitchen

If you’re in to something a little bit different then you should check out The Little Pink Kitchen where you can enjoy a healthy home-cooked breakfast in Sarah’s very own kitchen. I’ve been lucky enough to taste Sarah’s food before at an Assembly Gathering I went to last Autumn and I practically licked the plate (her wild garlic dip was the talk of the event). You have to book but for £15 you will be fed very well. The next breakfast is on the 9th July and I think there’s a good chance I will be there!

 

If you’re so hungover all you can stomach is coffee…

As a non-coffee drinker (SHOCK! HORROR!), I tend to go by Andrew’s feedback as to which places do the tastiest coffee. There’s even a Belfast coffee map app now which is proof that the city is a hotspot for coffee-lovers!

Root & Branch

These guys have their own roastery on site so there was no doubt that their hole in the wall would go down a storm. Here you can grab a coffee, tea or small snack before exploring the rest of the Ormeau Road.

 

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5A

When I lived in South Belfast this was my Sunday favourite despite it always being so busy. There is a reason why customers come in their droves because their coffee is the best in the area but my reason was because of their foccacias which are unbelievable. Definitely worth a try before going on a wee dander down the Lagan towpath!

District

The second place in the list from the Ormeau Road but another popular coffee joint. There are plenty of others that are cropping up nearby too so you could do a wee coffee crawl if you’re tempted (although maybe go decaf for one or two stops).

 

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If you want to be really naughty…

Sometimes you want to just skip breakfast and get straight down to the bad stuff. There’s no judgement here. If it’s doughnuts, gelato or waffles stacked with sugar then these three are good places to start.

Guilt Trip

This joint is the new kid in town which is popping up everywhere on my Insta feed. I don’t know why I haven’t tried their doughnuts yet but it is something I’m very ashamed of so I will have to remedy it this weekend!

Indigo Coffee & Gelato

Another new-ish café to the scene but as someone who has recently tasted their salted caramel gelato, I can truly attest that this will be a firm fixture on my summer circuit.

 

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The Pocket

The waffles here should be enough to entice me but the chance to people watch by their window is an added bonus. As an avid tea drinker, I fully appreciate the wee hourglasses they bring out so you can time how long to stew your tea for. It’s the little things!

 

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Have a lovely weekend!

 

What Not To Worry About #27

What Not To Worry About #27

Well friends, I am writing this post from a sick bed struck down with some unbeknownst sickness surrounded by pillows and tissues like the bloody Queen of Sheba. Like most sane people on this Earth I hate being sick. I hate the self-pity that comes rolling in along with it and the guilt of having to call work like some sniffling criminal. Why must we stress so much when our bodies remind us that we need to rest?

 

So I have been forced to listen and sleep and drink tea and sleep some more. I have watched some terrible movies that would normally have me cringing to my core but today I am crying in to my tenth cup of tea wondering what has come over me. I tend to become overly sensitive when I am ill – am the only one? I need constant reassurance and berate myself for being so pathetic for needing cuddles on demand but I find that cuddles are the best medicine. And ice cold Lucozade.

 

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All photos taken by the lovely Rebecca from A Clothes Horse

 

I also veer on the negative side when I’m poorly which is why this wee post came in hand this afternoon. It’s amazing (and a little bit disconcerting) how my mood can change like the wind as soon as I become vulnerable. One minute I am more Beyoncé than Beyoncé herself and the next I am the ultimate dependent woman. Taking the time out to have some perspective has definitely lifted this girl out of her wallowing ways.

 

So this week here are the few things I will choose to let go of instead of bringing me down…

 

Feeling weak

As mentioned above I don’t enjoy feeling weak but we have to accept that we can’t always be invincible. We need to rest, accept help when we need it and find some happiness in the moments when we can relish in being still.

People who steal parking spaces

Tescos carpark can be a real war-zone at around 6pm on a Monday. People become animals behind the steering wheel as they fight for the space closest to the door so their wee legs won’t buckle from the strain of pushing a trolley full of shopping. I’m the biggest culprit! I usually curse anyone that steals the spot I was gunning for but this week I will be happy for the extra few metres that I have to walk and count it towards the cardio I keep talking about needing more of.

Leaving voicemails

God help anyone who has to listen to one of my voicemails!! I am a mumbling wreck when I have to leave one – the pressure is too much! Even calling my pharmacy and listing my own name and number is enough to induce a moment of panic.

Roll on deodorant

This stuff actually makes me sweat making it a complete waste of time. I hate aerosol cans though because of my general love of the planet but roll on just doesn’t cut it.

Empty toilet rolls

People who don’t replace empty toilet rolls are just complete hallions in my eyes.

 

And that’s it for today. Wishing you a lovely week and here’s to hoping for some more of that sun that we love complaining about!!

What Not To Worry About #26

What Not To Worry About #26

Hello friends. How about this weather we’re having here on the emerald isle? It’s been such a treat to get a little sun-kissed on my lunch break and to feel my skin tingling as I retreat back inside. My favourite part has to be cooking with the backdoor open and allowing the warm air to fill the house with scents of summer. What’s not been so great though is the constant sneezing and eye-streaming that’s been gracing my face the last few weeks (making make-up absolutely pointless) and has turned me in to a sniffling wreck. All worth it though for a few moments of heat!

 

Last weekend was probably one of the best I’ve had all year as Andrew and I weaved our way across London celebrating his birthday. I booked the trip as his birthday present and even managed to keep it a secret until a few days before (a huge achievement for me!). We had 4 days to explore the big smoke which wreaked havoc with our feet and I definitely sweated from every pore of my body but we immersed ourselves in the city life, soaking in as much as we could.

 

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It was a trip I think we both needed and we have come back home feeling more energised and motivated than we have been in the last month or two. It’s funny how only a few days away from the daily grind of work, chores and routine can wake us from a slumber we don’t fully realise we are in. Our relationships can be the silent victims in this gentle descent; we forget to really talk to each other, immersing ourselves in computer and phone screens in an attempt to destress.

 

This weekend we didn’t look at screens for most of the day (except to take photos of course, always have time for that) and instead we got lost in new streets, discovering parts of the city we had never been to while eating as much good food as we could manage. We had conversations that didn’t revolve around work or family but allowed our words to meander between random topics as we hopped from tube to tube. It was a wonderful few days and I won’t leave it too long until we get lost again.

 

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And here are a few worries I will be letting go of this week…

 

Always having to be the leader

I have realised over the last few years that I have this incessant need to be the leader on a holiday. I love to plan the itinerary, research the best places to eat and take control of the map when trying to find our bearings. I’ve slowly learned to relinquish this control but I have this weird joy for planning the BEST. TRIP. EVER and surely this isn’t the worse thing?

Having to wear a bra

Summertime is not a good season for under garments especially when you get those beautiful under-boob sweat patches that just scream summer chic. There truly is no better feeling than taking off your bra as soon as you come home and flinging it in the corner – let those ta-ta’s free!!

Being terrible at replying to messages

Apologies to all those who have ever messaged me. I do intend on replying but I have a mind like a sieve and also I am just crap at replying.

Finishing a TV series

I always get so sad when finishing a TV series and my most recent mourning is for The Handmaid’s Tale. Hole Moses if you haven’t seen it you have to!

Being a nag

Really trying not to nag Andrew when he decides to stay up late, sleep in or refuse to organise his clothes. I am not his mother. Repeat: I am not his mother.

 

And that’s it for this week. Enjoy these sunny days folks!!

 

Local Favourites: Glaslough

Local Favourites: Glaslough

A village that boasts a castle, cottage-lined streets and ivy-clad walls is always guaranteed to win me over but the village of Glaslough in Co. Monaghan is nothing short of just plain lovely. It’s a place I’ve been coming to since I was a child but the beauty of the village still manages to surprise me every time I visit. It’s without doubt my favourite village in Ireland and so had to be included in my Local Favourites.

 

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The village hugs the edge of the Castle Leslie estate which has belonged to the Leslie family since it was built in the late 19th century. Although it is more like a manor house, the castle is a Victorian vision set against the backdrop of the lake the village is named after. The castle is a very popular luxury wedding destination (Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills married here) and so it’s quite difficult to get a room on the weekends. Instead, my sister and I stayed in the ‘hunting lodge’ by the castle gates which are just as impressive and a little more convenient.

 

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The lodge has two restaurants, a spa and the stables that can be accessed via the basement. This makes staying here a little more appealing since we were able to just walk to the spa in our dressing gowns after our breakfast (AKA the best morning ever). The rooms we stayed in were stunning and were full of character just like the building’s exterior; all dark wood and heavy curtains. Double doors then opened up to a bathroom with a walk-in shower and a free-standing bath that I fell in love with immediately. The lodge is also pet-friendly which is great news to those who can’t leave their pooches for too long!

 

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Needless to say a night in the lodge is enough to delight anyone needing an escape but in case you want to wander outside or visit for the day, here are a few tips for those new to Glaslough.

 

Where to Eat

The village is tiny so outside of the castle there is little on offer. Within the Castle there are two places to stuff your face depending on how fancy you want the food to be. Snaffler’s the more upscale restaurant and is also where you eat your breakfast if you’re staying in the lodge. We didn’t eat dinner here but I have to say the breakfast selection was really impressive – make sure to grab the granola pots early!

 

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Connor’s Bar is on the ground floor and although it’s a little more low-key, the food is still incredibly yummy as the ingredients are locally sourced as they are for Snaffler’s. My sister and I took my Mum, aunt and cousin to Connor’s for Mother’s Day recently and my salad was so tasty that I found myself finishing way before everyone else! You can expect a lot more than just pub grub with the price not being too bad either.

 

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Although both of the above are great choices, my recommendation would be to dander out of the castle gates and down Barrack Hill to your right. Here you will find Ambledown Cottage which is just about the sweetest place to eat dinner. The cottage is adorned with flowers and old trinkets so I was in love at first sight before even trying the food. Inside there is an open fire and conservatory to eat in but it’s the back of the cottage that had me giddy with excitement. They have transformed the area in to a dream of fairy lights and candles with tables distributed in different outhouses making it just about the most romantic place in town.

 

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The menu at Ambledown is confined to mostly pizza but man are they scrumptious. I find it difficult to finish pizza on my own but I had zero problems that night! I also liked the fact that it was BYO which allowed us to totter back to our room and finish the bottle in our dressing gowns 🙂

 

Where to Drink

There are only two pubs in town and even on a Friday night they are very quiet. It didn’t bother Shannon and I since we were there to relax but in case you’re up for a party, you might be a bit disappointed. That said, the Coachouse Bar does have live music on a Saturday so it might be a bit busier then! It’s definitely busy on a sunny afternoon with the benches outside filling up fairly fast. Inside it’s like entering an old house with lots of wee rooms to while a few hours over some pints.

 

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The Pillar House Hotel is the second pub in the village and another place to enjoy a beer or two. I’ve been told it has a pool room if you fancied killing time on a rainy day or or doing a crawl of the two pubs in town!

 

What to Do

Cookery school – Castle Leslie has its own cookery school which offers one day or two day courses for up to 12 people. This would be a great idea to enjoy as a package when staying at the Castle, I can only imagine how amazing the ingredients would be!

 

Horse riding – there is a well-equipped equestrian centre by the hunting lodge with a trail that takes you across the entire estate. The horses are beautiful, we even got to meet a few after our spa treatments.

 

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Spa – speaking of spa, the Victorian treatment rooms were the perfect place to start our day. We both got facials which left our skin feeling like a newborns and then relaxed in the hot tub with blue skies above us.

 

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Walking – there are many walks and trails around the Castle Leslie and there’s even an app that you can download to listen to while on your ramble.

 

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Antiques & Crafts – there is an antiques shop in town to discover some preloved gems as well as an art gallery to wander through.

 

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Despite being such a small town, Glaslough has so much to offer anyone in need of an escape not far from home. It’s a village that packs in so much character without sacrificing it’s charm and will be forever my favourite village.

 

Do you have a favourite village in Ireland? Are there any places you feel are under-appreciated? Please share!!

 

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What Not To Worry About #25

What Not To Worry About #25

I missed doing this post last week. It’s a post I look forward to writing because it’s the only time I allow myself to focus on the little things that I needlessly stress about and ask myself why I even give them the time of day. It’s easy to lose perspective when there are a million worries running through my brain:

Is it someone’s birthday soon?

Do we have enough milk for tea tonight?

Did I defrost the chicken?

When is my tax up on the car?

Is she annoyed at me for that thing I said?

Why do I get spots in my late twenties?

Am I making a difference?

Do I like where I am?

 

This madness can consume me if I allow it to but I think just being aware of my thoughts is one step closer to getting better control over them. Yes there are always going to be things to remember and yes I will have a random memory about one time when I was hammered in 2009 that will torment for the rest of my days BUT I can acknowledge the thought and then move on. I am usually a fairly laid back person but when one area of my life is suffering then the small things seem to become larger and more overwhelming.

 

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The best thing for me to do in these cases is to remove myself from the chaos and find somewhere quiet to just be for a moment. I have spoken before about the importance of prioritising these moments of solitude because it’s my way of regaining a bit more stability and understanding that it’s all going to be OK. When things are going rough we can have a tendency to focus on the present and lack the foresight needed to understand that it’s not permanent. Instead of spending time worrying about things that are out of our control, wouldn’t it be much better to acknowledge them for a second and then brush them off? Wouldn’t be much better to give ourselves a break and a moment to appreciate all that we do? Yes, I think so too.

 

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All photos by the lovely Rebecca of A Clothes Horse

And with that in mind, here are a few of the worries I am letting go of this week.

 

Not having a dog

This is a fact that makes me sad sometimes but not having a dog also means that I don’t have to sit in work feeling guilty all day knowing that my wee furball is lonely. Also means that I don’t have to be dragged about in the rain to walk off energy. Still can’t wait though.

Always forgetting my bag for life

I feel like the worst environmentalist in the world when I pull up to the shop and realise that all of my bag-for-life-bags are in that wee hole in the kitchen where we stuff them all. I curse myself every time and buy another one to add to the collection.

Cop cars

Why do I feel like an instant criminal as soon as I see a cop car? I haven’t done a thing wrong but all of a sudden I have an urge to escape from them at the earliest chance. Creeps.

My love of bread

With the bikini season well and truly here I have given up on the idea of washboard abs and will not be saying goodbye to the carb-filled joy of my heart. Bring on the baguettes.

People who play it safe

You know those people who pull a ridiculous face when you suggest doing something out of the ordinary? Like when someone asks what you’re doing for the weekend and you say that you might go camping which induces a look of pure horror. “Sure it gives it to rain for a half an hour on Saturday!! Are ye mad? Oh no, you wouldn’t catch me at that now. Oh no, sure ye’d be drenched in thon rain! No, I will be sitting up in the house there and staying put so I will”. Arrgghh!!

 

And that’s it for this week! Anything you are choosing to let go of???